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Preflight Interview: Scott Horowitz

The STS-101 Crew Interviews with Scott Horowitz, the Pilot of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

First, tell me why you wanted to be an astronaut. What is it in your background that led you to this?

Well, ever since I was a really small child, I'd been around airplanes and been interested in designing and building and flying airplanes. My dad took me flying when I was six years old, and I'd been flying with him ever since, built model airplanes, and in school I really liked math and science and loved reading about exploration and bush pilots and all those kinds of things. And then my sixth-grade teacher actually wrote a note in my little annual at the end of the year and said, "To one of the future astronauts. "And I thought, Hey, this is great: Math, science, flying-it's perfect for me!" And that's why I decided that I was going to be an astronaut.

It's noted in your NASA biography an interest in building and flying homemade aircraft. Is that what you were involved in as a small child with your own father?

As a small child, my dad and I built a lot of model airplanes. We had always talked about building a home-built airplane in our garage. We never did get around to that and so, finally, years later-in fact after I was in the Air Force, my wife and I built a small two-seat home-built airplane in our garage. I still have [it] today, [and] I fly around with my daughter, now, who's four years old.

Are you trying to build the next generation of astronauts?

Well, I just want to share with her the joy of flying because I always thought it was so fascinating. And, as much as it annoys my wife, I still like to take my four-year-old up flying; she really loves it. Who knows? Maybe someday she'll want to get into doing something like this or maybe not. I don't know.

Should your daughter do that and grow up to become an astronaut, she would probably then look to you as being a source of inspiration for her. Who were the sources of inspiration for you?

Well, my primary sources of inspiration, of course, were my parents. Growing up, they obviously got me interested in things like math and science and other activities. My father, who is an electrical engineer and helped design the first computer, UNIVAC I, was a big inspiration to me. A lot of my education background and everything is engineering, in particular, aerospace engineering, and his interest in flying, obviously, bled over to me. I really enjoyed flying. My brothers and I used to fly with him all over the country in small airplanes. My sixth grade teacher was the one who wrote in my yearbook that "To one of the future astronauts." This was during the time of the Apollo missions to the Moon and everything. He was an inspiration, if you will, to get me going. And then all my heroes growing up, were people like Charles Lindbergh and such, and so they were all an inspiration to me.

For you, after that push in the sixth grade, what were the steps in your career?

Well, I'm one of these focused people. I mean, I sat down and decided, well, if I'm going to go do something I'm going to research how to do it, and I started making phone calls in junior high school. I actually called the Johnson Space Center here and said, "I want to be an astronaut." Of course, I was a little young at the time. They were actually very helpful, and they sent little information pamphlets like we send out to folks that are interested. One of them had a list of all the criteria for astronaut selection. So, my thought was, I'm just going to do everything on that list, and that included, you know, doing well in math and science, getting advanced degrees in engineering or science. I laid out exactly what I was going to do: go to school, get my degrees, join the Air Force, become a pilot. I was going to become a test pilot. Then I was going to go join NASA. So, I'm one of those people that decided exactly what I was going to do and just marched down the road and kept sending in my application until they got tired of hearing from me. So, they hired me.

You've flown twice before. You've been training for a mission to the International Space Station and recently got word that you and some of your crewmates were going to be flying a revised mission with three new crewmates and have only a short time to prepare for it. Tell me your reaction to the news that you would fly assembly flight 2A.2a.

Well, my reaction to being on the first half of our mission was pretty much I expected that to happen. For the flight deck crew, there really wasn't much of an option. We had trained in Atlantis. Atlantis is the first flight of MEDS. There was a lot of overhead associated with that training. There really was no reason to have the flight deck crew split up and fly on the second half of the mission. So, we pretty much knew that, whatever happened. There was a lot of turmoil in the weeks leading up to the final announcement of what we were going to do as to who was going to fly what, but we pretty much knew that the flight deck crew was probably going to stay intact. So, there wasn't a huge reaction as far as which flight I was going to be on.

The shorthand way that, I guess, we've taken to describing this is that STS-101 is being split into two missions.

Right.

The mission that you're on, describe the main goals of what this mission is now. Why has NASA decided to make that split and fly this mission now?

Well, what's happened is STS-101 originally was a post-Service Module mission. The Service Module was going to be launched, put on top of the current stack. To continue building the station, we were going to go up and do all this, basically, connection of the Service Module to the FGB, interior outfitting of all the equipment that was going in the Service Module. What has happened in the meantime is that the station has been untended for quite a while. There are parts that have service lives -- for example, batteries -- that are projected to last about a year-and-a-half if everything's just right, exact temperatures and everything. Some of these parts are wearing out. They are supposed to be replaced on a normal basis, and they haven't been. There are enough of those tasks that have backlogged now to basically keep us busy for an entire mission. So, our job is to go up and replace these serviceable items, fix a few items that have failed, and basically get the station in a posture where it's ready to receive the Service Module, which will lead on to what our mission originally was going to be, which is what STS-106 will fly.

The decision to make this split of missions is coming just a matter of a few months out from your intended launch. [It] is very unusual for NASA, historically, to set something up that would happen that quickly. But the old way of planning it out for months and months and practicing it for months and months ahead of time was before the International Space Station. Is your mission an example, a glaring example maybe, of how things are going to be different from now on?

Well, I think what you're seeing is we're going to have a different way of doing business. The old way of doing shuttle-based missions was you usually had a long time-a couple of years-to prep for a mission and get ready. Now we're into servicing an operational space station and keeping it running, which requires logistics support, manpower support and all that, and it's a different way to do business. We're going to have to have people who are ready to go on a couple of months' notice to go work on the space station. We have never had to do that before. It's going to completely change the way we think about training. We're going to have to keep a skills base in the Astronaut Corps, and across the entire group of folks that are supporting the mission, to be able to react pretty rapidly to changing conditions on the space station. The good news for us is that the mission we're doing is really a subset of what we already trained for, so as disruptive as it looks, in getting ready for a whole other mission, really, we were training all the tasks that we thought we might have to do. So, now we are just basically picking from that pool of tasks that we already know how to do, and we will have the skills to go do the mission. We will not, in the future, be able to have these very finely scripted missions like we're used to doing on [the] space shuttle, where every minute of every day is a hundred percent scripted and practiced. I think in general we're going to say, "Here's a list of tasks. Here's a group of people with the skills. Let's go do it."

Let's talk about the specifics, and you've referred to this already. The flight deck on Space Shuttle Atlantis, where you and Jim Halsell will take your seats on launch day, is quite different from the flight deck that you've worked on before. After its previous 20 flights, Atlantis is the first of the orbiters to be upgraded. You used the acronym MEDS before. Others have referred to it as a "glass cockpit." Can you talk about the changes or the improvements that the glass cockpit brings to the shuttle? What about it is different? What are the reasons for having done this?

Well, Atlantis, as you mentioned, has the "glass cockpit," and it's called that because, basically, if you look at the dashboard, it's all glass displays. What was happening in the fleet was we had lots of mechanical gauges. The attitude indicator is this big, mechanical, very complex ball with lots of moving parts, and some of those parts nobody was building anymore. That became one problem. The other thing is that with these electronic displays, you now have a lot of flexibility to put whatever information you want on these displays. We've actually seen, in our training flow, that we can take advantage of the fact that we can reconfigure the displays for the task that we're doing to optimize which of the crewmembers gets to see what information. In fact, we can duplicate information in a way that more people can keep an eye on each systems and back each other up. So, this is the first step of the upgraded cockpits, and there's a whole group working on an even more upgraded shuttle cockpit in the future. What we're learning is that there's a tremendous potential, which we haven't even tapped yet, to really improve what I call S.A., the situational awareness of the crewmembers by providing them useful information in a useful form that can be formatted for the task they are doing, which you can't do with a mechanical gauge.

Is it possible to say that it's easier or harder to work in that environment than in the old one?

With a "glass cockpit," if done correctly, you could make the operator's job immensely easier because you can do a lot of processing in the computers that normally you would have to look at three or four different mechanical gauges to try to figure out what's going on. A lot of that hasn't been incorporated into this cockpit yet because it's the first step. So, by changing the displays to a more readable type, a lot of that has gotten easier. The downside is, because we haven't taken full advantage of the capabilities, it's not as easy as it could be yet. It's a whole other system we have to learn because every system that we put in the vehicle, the training team is obliged to break it as much as possible when we go through our training. So, it's another set of computers that we have to deal with when they break during training. But when everything's operating normally, which is 99.99 percent of the time, it's a great help.

Your rendezvous with the International Space Station is going to be similar to what the STS-96 astronauts flew on the last station assembly mission last year. Talk us through the events of rendezvous day, and as you do that describe what you'll be doing while Jim Halsell flies Atlantis up to the ISS.

When we wake up on rendezvous morning, it's a very busy day. We basically get up, and we're immediately into the rendezvous checklist. It's a whole separate checklist that has all the events that are going to occur that day to basically get the space shuttle hooked up to the space station, which is the ultimate goal of going up there, so we can go do our work. We start configuring the orbiter. We'll actually do some of this the night before, where we'll set up some small computers [called] PGSCs. And we have some software that runs that helps us envision how the rendezvous is going and use some of the tools we'll use to actually monitor and perform the closing on the space station. It starts out kind of at a slow pace. There are some burns that we will perform, and we start off performing burns that are computed by the ground and sent up to us. Then, at some point, we transition to using the on board solution, which is the computers on board are finding a solution to the burns. We're using our sensors to track the space station to help improve our relative understanding of each other's state vector, or where we are exactly in relation to each other. This all takes us to a point which we call TI, and this is sort of like the pivotal point of the rendezvous. At this point, things start getting really busy. One revolution around the Earth we will make a burn that'll take us to basically intercept a point just below the space station. At this point, Jim and I have both been working on doing these burns and getting the cockpit set up and doing this work, and Jeff Williams and the other crewmembers are doing all the support functions to get ready for the rendezvous. Jim will perform the first few burns with myself in the front cockpit, sitting like pilot and commander, and then, after we do some of the mid-course correction burns, Jim actually gets out of his seat and goes to the back because he will do the manual flying from the aft part of the cockpit using the aft controllers, looking out the back window, which is where the station will come in eventually. I will move into his seat, Jeff Williams will move into my seat, and then we're responsible for maintaining the checklists and keeping all the tasks occurring and performing the other correction burns from the front cockpit. After the last correction burn is completed, which is NC4, the controls will be handed off to be completely manual [controlled by] Jim in the back cockpit. At this point, I'm basically monitoring systems and running checklists and making sure that all the steps occur. And then Jim's responsible for intercepting what we call the R-bar, which, if you drew a line directly from the station to the center of the Earth, that's the R-bar, and we will come up underneath the station. He will perform a maneuver to get us going straight at the station up this R-bar and then, basically, do a barrel roll around the station. So, we'll be out at about 500 feet or so, we'll go around the station, end up over the top of the station at approximately 250 to 300 feet, and then we'll start coming in on top of the station. Now depending on the exact day we launch, the station might be in a different attitude to optimize how much solar energy it's getting on its panels, so he may have to, at about 170 feet, take the shuttle and turn it sideways. So then we'll be coming down on top, sideways, and then it'll be all manual control. We have a stationkeeping at 170 feet to try to get all the timing to work out because we have a small window to actually make the docking -- 170 feet. When the time to press comes in, he'll move in to 30 feet. At 30 feet, we take a last look at the end of the space station, the docking port. There's a target, and we have to make sure that both vehicles are aligned plus or minus about a degree of each other. We will do that, make some final corrections to the attitude of the space shuttle, and then, at about five minutes and fifty seconds prior to docking, Jim will press in from there. We'll be closing at .1 foot per second, which sounds really slow but, when you have two 200,000-pound masses heading for each other, it's pretty exciting. He will fly manually down the corridor to meet both the constraints on how fast we dock and the time we dock so that we can do it over a ground site to have backup control of the space station once we dock.

And those are the ground sites in Russia that are communicating to the station.

That's correct. So, a lot of stuff happens that day. And then, once we have capture, Mary Ellen will kick off the docking sequence. We'll get down to a hard-mate situation, where we have the two vehicles hard down and mated, and we can start getting ready to ingress.

But before you get to go inside your timeline calls for some activities to take place on the outside of the station.

That's correct.

Jeff Williams and Jim Voss are going to be getting in the suits and going outside. You are the intravehicular crewmember for this mission. You'll be, in essence, running that spacewalk from inside. Talk us through that day. What tasks, as the timeline's being developed, are involved and what makes it hard or easy this time out?

Well, the first day of real activity on the space station is spacewalking the EV activities. I will be their IV running the checklist, as you mentioned. And there's a lot of overhead just to do an EVA. We have to get all the suits out, get them all checked out. That'll have been done earlier in the mission. And, of course, Jeff and Jim will be pretty excited because they're getting ready to go outdoors. We'll get up that morning get them fed, get them dressed, get them in the airlock, kick them out the door. It's probably like sending your kid to school when it's snowing out. And then all the work outside begins. The first task that the EV crewmembers are going to have to do is what's called OTD. It's a large crane that was installed on STS-96. For some reason, that crane has become partially undocked from its docking adapter on the station and seems to be free to rotate, based on photos we [took] of the station during the STS-96 flyaway. They took pictures of it, and we noticed that the crane seems to be in different positions, so the first task is to figure out if they can redock that into its mating adapter and get it locked down hard because we don't want that crane spinning freely up there. That'll be their first task. If, for some reason, there's damage to that socket and we can't get it to mate, we will probably have to bring that crane nside. It's a fairly large crane, and we've already practiced this, but they'll have to disconnect it, fold it up, and somehow get it in the airlock. The airlock's pretty tight anyway, and the spacesuits, they're very large and very bulky and hard to maneuver. So getting in the airlock with that crane is going to be a real challenge for Jeff and Jim. And we have to be careful because the airlock is a little bit fragile. You don't want to be poking it with a sharp metal object. We've practiced that, looks like they can do that, but that's their first challenge. The next challenge is Strela, which is a manual crane that's manufactured in Russia. And we have to take that off of what's called the ICC, which is a big pallet in the back of the shuttle. It's bolted down there. They have to take this off, assemble it on some parts that are already on the station, and then take that entire assembly and put it into a fitting where it can rest, where it's out of the way of other hardware on the station and not in the way of missions that are going to come after us. Eventually, it'll get moved up towards the Service Module once it gets attached. So, that's their next challenge. They're pretty busy doing all those tasks. And then we have some other tasks, like changing out an antenna that needs to be swapped out and clearing some cables to make some targets more visible.

The antenna in question is one that is on the port side of the Unity node that was installed on STS-88.

That's correct.

Why is it being changed?

The antenna is [a] temporary system. A lot of people don't realize the environment of space is very harsh -- in sunlight, temperatures can be +200 degrees and in darkness can be -200 degress. So, between thermal cycling and just exposure to the atomic oxygen and all those things in space, the antenna is starting to fail. They've had some failures of components of the antenna, so we have an entire new antenna assembly that we can basically disconnect four connectors, plug in the new antenna, and put it back on the port side. That'll be a bit of a challenge for Jeff Williams, who's tasked to do that job, because the access to the antenna is not trivial in the spacesuit. He has to basically get in this foot restraint that's on the side of Unity and get himself positioned over to work on the antenna without the aid of the robot arm.

You've also been modest enough not to mention that, for all of these tasks that are to be performed, there's the added complicating factor of the fact that you and Mary Ellen Weber can't see them.

Yes. This just makes it more of a challenge to actually do all [the] tasks without anybody inside having direct eye contact with the EV crewmembers. On previous flights -- my last flight was 82 -- we could see exactly what was going on out the windows, which was great. On this flight, when Jim docks the space shuttle to the station -- the PMA is the bottom part of the station that's sort of a triangular, cone-looking thing - it's about 18 inches from the back window and completely fills our field of view. So, when we look out the back window, we see a black object, and we can't see anything. Overhead, we're going to see a black object, except when they clear some wires underneath we may have an EVA guy poking underneath the PMA. So, it's all done via cameras, which makes Mary Ellen's job tough because the robot arm is basically going to be operating in a place that can only be monitored by cameras. And I have to basically use a computer model of the station and, listening to where the EVA guys tell me they are, to keep track of where they are on the stack while we're doing these EVAs.

The experience of helping with EVAs on STS-82, is it helping you do this better?

Yes. Having previously done an EVA-type flight - I wasn't the IV crewmember there but I did assist the EV crewmembers, helping them get suited up and go out the door - I have a good understanding for how EVA day will go and the type of problems the EV guys will encounter. So it's really helped in my preparing to be the IV and actually the backup EV crewmember for this flight.

After the spacewalk, the work inside the International Space Station is to begin. Do you have any sense, at this point, of how you'll feel when you float into that station for the first time?

When we first float into station it's kind of hard to know how we're going to react because we're going to be so busy. We have so much to do. We're going to be focused on getting things done, but I've never been in that large a volume in space. From what I've heard that's pretty impressive. When you get through the PMA and into the Node, which is a fairly large volume, it's very impressive in zero-g to float around in such a large volume. So that's going to be a pretty neat experience, plus realizing that you're about ready to go to work on this pretty intricate piece of hardware and that you have all this stuff to do and no time to get it done. It's probably going to be a little bit overwhelming.

Let's break down the kinds of tasks that are involved. The top priority for this mission is being characterized as the repair of equipment in Zarya, which has been on orbit since late 1998. Talk about the particular equipment that is targeted for repair or replacement and what's involved in the jobs that you and your crewmates are doing. Are these things that were scheduled to be changed or things that are broken and have to be changed?

Most of the work that has to be done is to replace parts that eventually were going to be replaced anyway. But the number one item is the batteries. The space station runs all its electrical systems off of batteries that get recharged from the solar panels. So, every 45 minutes or so it's in sunlight, and every 45 minutes it's in darkness, and when it's in darkness it runs completely off the batteries that discharge, and when it's in light the batteries get recharged from the solar arrays. Well, all the cycling of the batteries over the last year has eventually worn out the batteries. They're only good for so many cycles. They've worn out a little faster because of some tweaks in the charging system and some failures of some of those components. There are six batteries. Each of the batteries has what we'll call black boxes. There are Russian acronyms -- I won't go into all that -- that describe each of the boxes. But, a battery set is a battery, two large boxes that [are] part of the charging cycle and three smaller ones. So, there's a total of six components in a battery block. Right now we know of at least two batteries and several of the components that need to be replaced. We probably won't know for another couple of weeks whether we're going to replace more. All the batteries have shown signs that they're wearing out. Two of them have had, basically, hard failures, and so I'm sure as many batteries and replacement parts as they can give us, we're going to replace. In order to replace these parts, all the components are behind panels and most of the battery components are in the floor. So, they're all on what we call the deck or the floor of the station. Unfortunately, STS-96 put a lot of stuff in the station for the Expedition crews, and so all the panels are covered with bags of supplies. So, the first thing you have to do; it's trying to go into your messy garage and go work on something. You've got to get everything out of the way, and then you have to go stow that somewhere before you can even start to work. So there's a lot of overhead, and that's just something we have to do and take care of. And then you can go do the work, open the panels, disconnect whichever components you need, and you have to do this in concert with the ground because a lot of things have to be powered down before you can replace the box. So, the coordination between us on orbit and the ground [is] going to be kind of critical to get these tasks done in a timely manner. Then we replace the boxes, get everything checked out, close it up, put the stuff back on top of it, and then we can go on to the next item.

When you refer to the coordination with the ground, are we talking about coordinating with Russian flight controllers? With the ISS Flight Control Room in Houston? Both?

This is a shuttle-based mission, so all of our coordination is through MCC-Houston. Now, there's obviously a lot of coordination going on in Moscow, but that is being done on the ground for us. If we have a specific question that we want to ask a Russian specialist about a task we're doing -- if we have a problem -- we can be immediately patched through to Russia to talk to the Russian specialist directly. For the majority of the mission, though, we will be talking to our Capcoms here in MCC-Houston, and that'll include the front room, if you will, which is the shuttle room as well as the ISS room and all their controllers. So we can talk to them pretty freely.

So, we said the Zarya was launched to provide motion control and electrical power for the space station until the arrival of the Service Module, and at the time, that was supposed to be about eight months later. It's been longer than that since. So, a second priority of your mission is a series of tasks that are being described as those that extend the service life of Zarya. Different than fixing things that are broken, describe the kind of work that you and your crewmates have to do to keep Zarya, to extend its life.

Well, an example of a task like that -- to extend the life of Zarya -- would be the smoke detectors. I mean, some of them have failed, but they had a known shelf life. So, there's not a real distinction between repair and service extension to us. We have to go replace whichever box needs to be replaced. Some of those will extend the life, and some of those are just for components that have failed. Most of it is components that were known that they were going to wear out at some point. Some have worn out a little faster. But there are actually not a lot of just pure failures from parts failing. It's just because they exceeded their service life.

There are some other jobs inside the ISS that were first planned for mission 2A.2, without any other letter, that are now on the agenda for this flight: logistics transfers out of the SPACEHAB module, more work on the Early Communications system. Talk about the rest of the timeline for you and your crew inside the station, particularly jobs that you are going to be busy working with. What are the other things that are important to be done during this time that you are there?

Well, the big tasks are, in priority, is one, repairing any equipment that's failed, and then all the service life extension. That's about 90 percent of the work as far as work on the modules. There are some other things like installing some stuff for the Expedition crews, like some fasteners and some extra hold-down places for them, and the majority of the time not spent working and fixing things will be logistics transfer. Part of that transfer is transfer to support doing the work. For example, you have to get the battery out of the SPACEHAB, bring it into the station for the guys to change the battery. So, some of it is just, you need the part to go do the work and so you'll transfer some items there. After all the installation work is done, we are going to transfer as much stuff as we can put in there for the Expedition crews, and to also offload any of the work that would be on the second half of the mission. On the first mission, before it was split, I believe we were up to almost 8,000 pounds of supplies that were going to be transferred into both the FGB and the Service Module, and, of course, we can't transfer any of that equipment into the Service Module. So, we're going to put whatever we can into the FGB. For example, enclosures. We can actually utilize some space above the ceiling by opening up panels and building this metal enclosure that'll keep the bags and everything away from, say, cable conduits and other sensitive equipment. So, we can stuff more bags up in the ceiling. It's kind of like a big closet.

The last mission to the space station encountered a slight degradation in the air quality on the inside. First, what is it at this point that's believed to have been the source of that problem, and second, what's being done on your mission to ensure that none of you develops any of those same symptoms?

The STS-96 [crew] reported some problems that we believe were associated with air quality. One of the problems in space is that you have to completely control your atmosphere. All the CO2 that we produce while we're breathing, all the humidity that we produce due to respiration, all will collect in the volume you're working with if you don't actively take the air out and scrub it of moisture and of CO2, for example. The problem in the shuttle-station flights is that we don't have the whole air revitalization system on [the] station active yet, so those parts aren't there. So, we depend on the space shuttle to scrub the entire atmosphere for the entire volume that we're working in. We have to, when we get in, hook up tubes and hoses and basically plumb the air so that it all recirculates back through the shuttle so we can use what we call LiOH canisters. They absorb CO2, get [it] out of the atmosphere and provide ventilation and flow in series with the fans that are already in the FGB. One of the problems in space is, if you get into a dead area, for example, where there's not much air flow because there's no convection-there's no up or down in space so hot air doesn't rise, for example-you can, by breathing, make a bubble of CO2 around your face. You can actually be breathing a lot of CO2, and you can get some symptoms due to CO2 which [are] headache and some other symptoms like that. The other problem is, if you don't have a lot of air flow over you, you could also heat up. Actually, you see people with flush faces, especially when they're working hard trying to replace things behind panels. One of the simple fixes is, we're going to bring a lot of little fans. We're going to have these little portable fans on clamps that we can clamp up into our work area and turn on to get us a lot of local flow. All the folks that work on the environmental control and life support systems have completely analyzed the modules and have found a way to optimize the flow, to get better flow through the Node and the FGB and back into the shuttle. So we're going to have some modification of the duct work once we get up there to improve the scrubbing of the air to provide a better atmosphere because, if you put seven people in a closed environment and make them work pretty hard, you're going to produce a tremendous amount of moisture, which is one of the limiting problems. You can produce so much moisture that the humidity levels get very high. So, actually, training here in Houston's good because it's hot and humid here, so it might be the same way in the station.

With all of that work complete, as you folks undock and fly around the station to get a good look at it, what will have to have been accomplished, what are the criterion, for STS-101 at that point to have been considered a success?

Well, obviously get up and having a successful docking is going to be the first step. Completing our EVA and getting the top-priority items on the list of repair and extension tasks and getting our transfer items moved across to the station are all going to be milestones to achieve our goal of a successful mission. The whole bottom line is to leave the station in a configuration where it's ready to accept the Service Module and be ready for STS-106. Then we will have had a successful mission.

At the end of last year, everybody compiled year-end and decade-end and millennial-end lists, and human space flight was voted amongst the top five news events of the 20th century, from Gagarin to the Moon landings and beyond. Well, you're getting ready for one of the first human spaceflights of the 21st century on a mission that is designed to extend the human presence in space. Why is that important? What's the value of building this station and making it possible for human beings to stay in space?

Well, I think the most important thing about space flight is that it makes the world a better place for our children. Everything we do in space is about making everything better for life on Earth. There have been a lot of technological breakthroughs, everything from the computer chip to medical discoveries that we've learned in space. There are a lot of things that are going to happen that we can't even imagine yet. We are also a species that likes to explore. And while [the] space station, I would not consider deep space exploration because it's still in low-Earth orbit, it's the first step to extend our presence into space to go on and do things like go to the Moon again and Mars, which I think is extremely important. I hope that someday, even if I don't get the opportunity, my daughter and her children would be part of a spacefaring nation that can move on to Mars and beyond the solar system to really find out about the universe that we live in and understand the origins of life and answer some pretty tough questions that we can only ponder today.

Greetings
IMAGE: Scott Horowitz
Click on the image to hear Scott Horowitz's greeting.
Pilot, STS-101
Crew Interviews

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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